PARENTS are throwing support behind a Warrnambool father’s petition which urges AFL Western District to reverse a decision to limit clubs’ junior players.
South Rovers premiership captain Lucas Wilson learned of the player cap – which was included in AFL Western District’s junior review – on Monday.
Wilson said the changes could affect his son Oska’s ability to play with his friends at South Rovers after a two-year absence from football.
The changes specify Hampden league under 16, 14 and 12 as well as Warrnambool and District under 15 and 12 sides must have a maximum cap of 26 players.
It means just 16 players will take the field, while five are set to make up the bench.
Upon discovering the changes, Wilson took to social media to voice his discontent. His Facebook post earned more than 150 shares, 260 likes and 95 comments.
His online petition, created on Wednesday, has already gathered almost 250 signatures with a goal of 500.
“I found out about the player cap as I was getting my son signed up for under 15s and decided to put a post up when I realised what was going on,” he told The Standard.
“Judging by the amount of support (the petition) has had, I think there are a few people around feeling the same.
“It lessens the likelihood of my lad being able to play at the club, because they’ve potentially filled the quota already with kids that played at the club last year.
“I wouldn’t expect (or want) those kids to miss out at all.”
Wilson, a real estate agent, urged the top body to invest in Auskick and encourage strong grassroots links at all clubs.
To be told ‘no, we don’t have room – you have to find another club’ just doesn’t make sense.Lucas Wilson
“I would have thought taking players away from clubs who are driven and have the right pathways in place is penalising them,” he said.
“I can understand the rationale – there’s clubs that are struggling for numbers and they want to spread the players into those clubs.
“But the way to do that is to put things in place to encourage people to those clubs rather than discouraging people from being at the clubs they want to be at.
“Footy clubs are an important environment for kids growing up and to be around people they know and feel comfortable with. To be told ‘no, we don’t have room – go and find another club’ just doesn’t make sense.”
Wilson also felt clubs based outside Warrnambool were at a disadvantage, with players who exceed the cap limit forced to travel between 20 and 30 kilometres to the next football club.